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Monday, August 16, 2010

I wasn't on a bike trip. I was "Studying the Brain"

5 brain scientists decide to see how the brain responds to being cut off from email, Facebook, Twitter and cell phones. They do this by going on a rafting trip – with a New York Times reporter and a film crew.




Actually, the article is worth reading as a light introduction to work in this field.


On the bike trip, it was interesting how much electronics we actually carried.

1 Laptop

1 T-Mobile unit for wireless laptop access “anywhere” – but since T-Mobile was the carrier, this was almost “nowhere” we were.

2 standard cell phones

2 smart phones (Blackberries)

2 iPods

3 digital cameras

1 Garmin GPS unit, nicknamed “Sheila” (car)

1 computer printer (once we had the car, so I didn’t have to write out everything multiple times)

Device so Ipods/Blackberries could be played through car radio

Chargers and cables for this stuff

2 bike computers (for measuring speed, distance, etc.)


When we had cell phone coverage, there were a lot of text messages. On days with when the wind was really bad – “How bad was it?” – we would check weather.com for the wind speed if we had coverage, just to have a number to attach to it.  Abby could keep in touch with Luke, and Beth with Trey.


The downside was that when  we didn’t have coverage – and with T-Mobile, this was anywhere you could see crops or forests and couldn’t see an interstate highway – our loved ones got concerned. This was most notable early in the trip, when we had a 3 day outage in western Maryland, West Virginia, and southwest Pennsylvania.


If we go back to my first century ride as a cyclist – 1976 – we have exactly NONE of this technology available.  It’s not either possible or desirable just to get rid of such useful things, but worth studying how they are changing us and what we should do about that.

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